Earlier this month, the Taliban met with a group of Afghan politicians in Moscow. While the government was not included in the talks, prominent Afghan leaders like ex-President Hamid Karzai, former National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar, Deputy-Chief Executive Mohammad Mohaqiq, and Opposition leader Atta Mohammad Noor were among those present.

Both sides called the gathering “successful” and issued a nine-point declaration, one that calls for regular intra-Afghan dialogues but, more interestingly, also recognises specific demands made by the Taliban, like its call for a complete withdrawal of foreign forces.

Repeated media reports on ‘partial’ and ‘full withdrawal’ have raised fear and concerns over the security situation. The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Thursday quashed rumours over the immediate withdrawal of American troops. “I’ve heard some individual Taliban officials claim that we have a troop withdrawal timetable for Afghanistan. Today, they correctly retracted that claim. To be clear, no troop withdrawal timetable exists,” he said. Among other demands that found place in the declaration were the release of Taliban prisoners, removal of its leaders from the UN blacklist and the opening of a political office.

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